Mr. Mxyzptlk: Who is the Interdimensional Imp?

Greetings From the Fifth Dimension

Mxyzptlk: “Y’see, for centuries now, I’ve been pitting my interdimensional magic against schmoes who thought they could go fifteen rounds with the old master. I became bored with rank-and-file human dopes, but then you showed up: SUPERMAN! You, my friend, are the ultimate challenge! We’re gonna have many merry games, you and I!”

Superman: the Animated Series “Mxyzpixilated” (Season 2, Episode 8) 

You’re playing chess with an army veteran in a park. Shouting voices draw your attention. People are leaping at money growing from a tree’s branches. You turn to your opponent and see the old soldier is fading away. You run down the road in a panic and are bowled over by a centurion. How are you in Rome?! 

A pig flies past causing you to look up. A short man floating in the air is laughing. He spots you staring and snaps his fingers. Your body splits and shifts. It should hurt, but you feel like a million bucks. A sound startles you and you run again, followed by thousands of fellow deer. The man howls with laughter before-

Yeesh, you like to yammer on, McGurk. How about you and your pals pile in? [a lake bursts into flame] Water’s warm.

Great. Deadpool, She-Hulk, and now Mxyzptlk. I gotta stay away from fourth-wall breakers.

That’s Mr. Mxyzptlk to you!

Mr. Mxyzptlk is my favorite supervillain. This chaotic fusion of Bugs Bunny and The Great Gazoo has powers that Superman can’t overcome. So who is he? Where does he come from? How the heck do you say that name? Let’s find out.

The Games Begin: Mr. Mxyzptlk’s Backstory

Superman: [reading a newspaper comic] “Mr… Mix-il-plik?”
Mxyzptlk: [pops out of the comic] “NO! Repeat after me, bright boy. It’s Mix, [turns his head into a blender] Yezz, [turns into a Yes album] Spit, [spits on Superman’s glasses] Lick. [turns into a dog to lick him]” 

Superman: the Animated Series “Mxyzpixilated” (Season 2, Episode 8) 

Mr. Mxyzptlk debuted in Superman #30 in 1944. He was created by Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, who were inspired by Coyote, Loki, and other tricksters.

Mr. Mxyzptlk is a court jester from the Fifth Dimension. He discovered a way to travel to the Third Dimension and appeared in Metropolis. Fascinated by humans, he began toying with people using technology that resembled magic to them.

Superman couldn’t stop Mxyzptlk’s antics. The technology gave Mxyzptlk too many powers to counter. Mxy boasted that the only way to send him back to the Fifth Dimension was to make him say his name backwards. Superman eventually tricked him into saying Kltpzyxm (Kil-Tip-Zay-Zim) and banished the impetuous imp.

Mr. Mxyzptlk first returned three months later, revealing the exile was temporary. He routinely appeared to stir up mischief while Superman struggled to find new ways to trick him into saying Kltpzyxm. Common tactics included asking Mxy to read a name while Clark Kent’s glasses were fogged, mixing it in with complicated words, or exploiting his temper.

Best Two Out of Three?: Mr. Mxyzptlk’s History

Mxyzptlk:I was part of it from the beginning. Well… almost the beginning. The comics, the toys, the cartoon show…
Superboy: “The cartoon show?”
Mxyzptlk:You’ve got to think between dimensions, junior. This thing between me and your pop, it spans realities […] I’m the only one who can see the big picture, the one who can leap from world to world.”

Action Comics #975

The Crisis on Infinite Earths barely changed Mr. Mxyzptlk. He became a kook whose fellow imps looked down on his forays into the Third Dimension. Mxy played pranks on many people throughout the millennia, inspiring stories of leprechauns, djinn, and fairies. One story implied that he visits the Marvel universe as The Impossible Man to play with the Fantastic Four.

Mr. Mxyzptlk began his games in Metropolis because Superman’s powers made him a more interesting playmate. He also toyed with other heroes, but refocused on Superman after a near-apocalypse when The Joker tricked Mxy and stole his powers.

Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan overpowered Mr. Mxyzptlk and captured him. He kept the imp imprisoned while manipulating the DC universe. Mxy blamed Lois Lane and Superboy for distracting Superman from rescuing him, despite Clark not knowing he was in danger. Mr. Mxyzptlk’s games sometimes become deadly to get his playmate’s undivided attention.

Imp-eriled: Mr. Mxyzptlk’s Powers and Personality

Mxyzptlk: “Goodbye, dependable Clark! Hello Mxyzptlk: God of CHAOS!

My Adventures With Superman “Kiss, Kiss, Fall in Portal” (Season 1, Episode 6)

Mr. Mxyzptlk is a reality warper. Some incarnations use advanced technology, others have innate magic, but they are always nigh-unstoppable. There is only one Mxyzptlk in the multiverse. Every time he shows up in any media, he is the same character adapting to the new work. 

Kltpzyxm was originally a word that sent anyone to the Fifth Dimension. The only way back was for a traveler to say their own name backwards. Superman occasionally used that trick to mess with Mxyzptlk on his home turf, forcing Mxy to try tricking him into saying “Namrepus.” It didn’t work because the real incantation was “Le-Lak”, Kal-El backwards. Mxy only disappears in modern comics because he agreed to do so when he lost the name game.

Mr. Mxyzptlk is fun-loving, gullible, and has a short fuse. He prefers making mischief to conquering galaxies. He’s occasionally saved Superman from other threats just to keep his favorite playmate whole.

Mr. Mxyzptlk’s overwhelming power forces Superman to fight smarter, not harder. It’s implied that the games are a subtle form of training. The antics help Superman unwind with less serious threats while also teaching him to look beyond brute force. Wax on, wax off, Kent-san

The Actors Who Play Mr. Mxyzptlk

Gilbert Mack – The New Adventures of Superman
Frank Welker – Super Friends
Gilbert Gottfried – Superman: the Animated Series, Justice League Action
David Errigo Jr. – My Adventures With Superman
Michael J. Pollard – Superboy
Howie Mandel – Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Peter Gadiot and Thomas Lennon – Supergirl

Didya Get All That? 

A trickster imp from the Fifth Dimension

Image courtesy of Warner Media

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